The CBN has all but admitted its inability to sensibly, and painlessly, execute its own naira redesign policy. After asking Nigerians to surrender their old notes in the face of threats that they will cease to be the legal tender, this institution, which ordinarily ought to be guided by economic common sense, announced its inability to complete the swap.
It cannot print enough new notes to prevent long, gruelling queues for cash that have crippled the country and damaged trust in the banking system. So much for ‘banking the unbanked’ when the banked, fearing the worst, are now resigned to just claiming their deposits and settling for whatever alternative is there to store their cash. Return of the old pits cash storage? What does this bode for the country’s feeble financial system?
Evidently, Emefiele, the hapless governor of the central bank, has set the country back by many years. The question remains, why has he done it? Incompetence is one possible reason. The Delta-born former banker has not particularly shone since his controversial 2014 appointment. The country’s bank executives have no respect for him. Economists say he has a poor understanding of stimulating growth with monetary policies. Rule of law experts accuse him of violating his constitutional obligations, concerned only with his personal survival with little care for the national interests. Put together, this paints the picture of a man who is both unprincipled and unlettered, at least in the ways of central banking.
But one cannot be so incompetent, or stupid, that fail to see that enforcing a swap without have enough notes in the reserve to complete the same will only result in chaos. So why did Emefiele do it? The answer closer to the truth, without disregarding his slow-wittedness, is that he wanted to carry out a political coup at the time Nigeria, and his political targets, are most vulnerable. An analysis offers a lucid explanation of this.
Statutorily and as practiced in most countries in the world, the head of the central bank is mandated to be apolitical in consideration of the political sensitivity of his position. But the case is, sadly, in the reverse in Nigeria with Godwin Emefiele having showed unmasked partisanship since he took over the reigns at CBN in 2014.
Emefiele mounted power in the most strange circumstances when his predecessor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the then Emir of Kano, was booted out of office after exposing missing revenues.
Emefiele’s two terms make him the first such central banker in the country’s history since the return to democracy in 1999.
However, he took a majority of Nigerians by surprise when he bided for the presidency in 2022 despite the non-partisan nature of his office.
As expected, the Nigeria court found such ambition out of bounds and perished his hopes to emerge as the flagbearer of the APC.
Four months down the line, the CBN boss as seen by political experts and political oppositions is back to the political fray with an audacious coup to undermine the government and settle political scores.
Speaking after the Supreme court on Wednesday reined in on the CBN from implementing full transition of a new printed form of the naira, Ajuri Ngelale, spokesperson for APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu noted the unseemliness and wrong timing of the policy.
“There are areas of Nigeria the size of England where there is maybe only a handful of banks,” said Ajuri as quoted by Forbes.
“This artificial deadline put in place by the Central Bank put a lot of undue hardship on our citizens.
On the political undertone of Emefiele’s policy, Ngelale noted “He [Emefiele] has a clear record in political partisanship relative to the job function he is performing.”
Millions of Nigerians, since the move to transition into the newly designed naira notes, have had their frustrations hit a new high with riots breaking out in some parts of the country on the occasion of many being denied their hard-earned money all on the altar of a ‘desperate’ coup for political revenge.
This analysis makes it plausible to understand why only the opposition parties have been in support of the CBN move to the spite of the masses who get to be — avoidably — the grass that suffers.
Irrefutably, the concept of a currency swap is one economic-progressive countries implement from time to time, and when one considers the insecurity and economic straits Nigeria is whirled in, far from it would one disapprove of such ingenious move to restore sanity back to our currency and attendant beneficiaries.
But Ngelale argues against the fire-brigade approach Emefiele and his cohorts have deemed fit to midwife the transition.
“There is no question the new currency will be implemented in a time frame of six months to half a year instead of a fire brigade two-three months,” said Ngelale.